“’Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked” (John 1:46).
This was not a compliment.
Nothing much came from Nazareth, an obscure village tucked away in the hills of Galilee. We have lots of names for places like that.
Trailer Park territory.
Home of the rednecks.
Behind the times.
And those are the nice names.
Every country and state and province has a place like Nazareth. It’s a place so remote that nothing ever happens there, no one of distinction lives there, and no one of importance comes from there.
That’s why Nathanael said, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
It seemed highly unlike that the Messiah would come from a place like that. If you were looking for the one the prophets talked about, go to Jerusalem.
Go to the capital city.
Go to the place of sophistication.
Go where the people are.
Here is the irony of it all, both then and now. For every Jerusalem, there are a hundred places like Nazareth. The world is filled with unlikely places where nothing much ever seems to happen, where there is no great university, little towns without much commerce, places off the beaten path, tiny villages and hamlets where few people live.
Nathanael represents the “big city” attitude that prevails today.
He speaks for the people of New York, Rome, London, and Singapore.
How could anything good come from Nazareth?
But our God is not a front runner. He doesn’t design his coming around the prejudices of city-dwellers.
Not that he has anything against big cities.
He loves the great, teeming, bustling, busy cities of the world.
But Jesus was not ashamed to come from Nazareth.
Notice what Philip said, how he responded to Nathanael’s prejudice.
“Come and see” (John 1:46).
That’s always the gospel invitation.
To those who think they don’t need Jesus, Come and see.
To those who doubt his story, Come and see.
To those who prefer a more sophisticated Savior, Come and see.
At every point along the way, God upends human prejudice and overthrows our preconceptions. He doesn’t play to our expectations. If you are willing to let go of your backward way of thinking, you too can be saved.
Can anything good come out Nazareth?
Come and see.
Open our eyes, Lord, to see you as you are, and not as the world sees you. Amen.